Wednesday, May 20, 2009

News - 05/20/09...

New trailer now live for the surreal fantasy 9

G4TV posted a new trailer for the weirdly surreal post-apocalyptic animated movie 9, which you can view after the jump.

The movie, which opens Sept. 9 (or 9-9-09, get it?), is directed by Shane Acker, based on his original animated short. It features the voices of Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover, Martin Landau, Christopher Plummer and John C. Reilly.

BYU, UCLA entries win Student Academy Awards

Two Brigham Young University students are among the three winners in the animation category at this year's Student Academy Awards.

BYU's Jed Henry won for Kites, while Glenn Harmon was named a winner for Pajama Gladiator.

Also a winner in animation at the 36th Student Academy Awards is Joaquin Baldwin of the University of California, Los Angeles for Sebastian’s Voodoo.

United States winners in each category will each receive an award, but their placement -- Gold, Silver or Bronze -- will not be revealed until a ceremony Saturday, June 13 at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' Samuel Goldwyn Theater in Beverly Hills.

All winners will take part in a week-long industry seminar before learning their place in the rankings.

Gold, Silver and Bronze Medal awards are accompanied by cash prizes of $5,000, $3,000 and $2,000, respectively.

Others among the animation finalists attend Ringling College of Art and Design, Pratt Institute, Academy of Art University, California Institute of the Arts and School of Visual Arts.

Two former Student Academy Award winners were nominees at the 81st Academy Awards held earlier this year: Pete Docter received his fourth nomination for the Original Screenplay for WALL-E, and Reto Caffi, last year's Honorary Foreign Film award winner, received his first nomination for the live-action short film Auf der Strecke (On the Line).

Tickets for the 36th Annual Student Academy Awards ceremony, at which the Gold Medal-winning films and the Honorary Foreign Film will be screened in their entirety, are free and available now. A maximum of four tickets may be requested online at, in person at the Academy box office, by mail, or by calling the Student Academy Awards department at (310) 247-3000, ext. 130.

The June 13 ceremony begins at 6 p.m.; doors open at 5 p.m. The Samuel Goldwyn Theater is located at 8949 Wilshire Boulevard. All seating is unreserved.

Trailer for Muscle Koushinkyaku (Muscle March)

Speaking of video games, this commercial for the Wii title Muscle Koushinkyaku (Muscle March) may just be the greatest game commercial ever. It’s Ripping Friends meets Japanese psychedelia with a polar bear thrown in for good measure.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

Pablo Ferro: the movie

Devin Roth and Dave Creek of Scatter Brain Inc. just produced a short trailer for Richard Goldgewicht’s live action/animation documentary on Pablo Ferro. Ferro, a former animator and comic book artist who became a legendary designer behind dozens of renown movie main titles, graphic sequences and commercials, worked with the greatest names in film - everyone from Bill Tytla to Stanley Kubrick.

The forthcoming documentary about his life, which will be narrated by Jeff Bridges, should be quite illuminating. For more information on the progress of the doc, check the Pablo production blog. Meanwhile, below is a sample of some of Ferro’s work.

(Thanks cartoonbrew)

HIT "Favorites" Coming to DVD

HIT Entertainment will release HIT Favorites, a DVD compilation of back-to-school episodes from half a dozen HIT series, the company says.

HIT Favorites: School Days will be released on July 14 and feature the episodes "Thomas and the Colors" (Thomas & Friends); "The New Kid" (Barney & Friends); "Flying Lessons" (Fifi and the Flowertots); "Dizzy and the Walking Bus" (Bob the Builder); "Fiery Finale (Fireman Sam); and "Hide and Seek" (Kipper). It will also come with a bonus episode, "Big Chris Learns to Fly." It will retail for $14.95.

Justin Long on his upcoming animated movies, including Planet 51

Planet 51

Justin Long, who provides the voice of an alien in the upcoming animated family sci-fi movie Planet 51, told reporters that the film hearkens back to the classic E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. In the new film, a human astronaut lands on an alien planet where the aliens fear this unknown visitor.

"It's sort of like a reverse E.T." Long said in a group interview on Monday in Beverly Hills, Calif., where he was promoting Drag Me to Hell. "I would, I guess, be the Henry Thomas part. I take in the astronaut."
Dwayne Johnson voices the human, and Long did a comic riff on his co-star's ever-changing name. "Dwayne 'The Rock'—I don't think he's The Rock anymore, though," Long joked. "He's Dwayne Johnson. Just Dwayne, like Cher? Dwayne 'The Johnson' Rock. I worked with The Johnson. He plays the astronaut, and I've heard some of his stuff. It's very funny."

Long also voices a talking animal in the cartoon Alpha and Omega. "That's about wolves," he said. "It's a kids' movie about these two wolves that fall in love."

Finally, Long still provides the voice of Alvin the Chipmunk. The second live-action Alvin and the Chipmunks movie has a title so silly it makes even Long laugh. "The Squeakuel, which is very difficult to say with a straight face," he said.

Planet 51 opens Nov. 20. Alpha and Omega opens in 2010. Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel opens Christmas Day.

Why Up isn't what you think it is

With elements of old-time classic films like It's a Wonderful Life and The Wizard of Oz, it seems as though Pixar's 3-D animated film Up was the perfect choice to be the first-ever animated movie to kick off the Festival de Cannes in its Grand Theatre Lumiere last week.

Director Pete Docter (Monsters, Inc.) has been on a real whirlwind adventure with his feel-good film, which began with a field trip to South America for research, kicked off with Cannes in the South of France last Wednesday and culminated in Hollywood on Saturday with the movie's world premiere at the historic El Capitan Theater.

"Up is about a 78-year-old retired balloon salesman who ties his entire surplus stock of balloons to the roof of his house and floats off to this fantastic adventure in South America," Docter told SCI FI Wire. That character, Carl, is voiced by Ed Asner, a Golden Globe- and Emmy-winning actor of great distinction. Carl's counterpart is 8-year-old nature enthusiast and stowaway Russell, voiced by enthusiastic newcomer Jordan Nagai.

While it's not unusual for animators to do copious research on their subjects, it is somewhat out of the ordinary for a director to go to such lengths. "We went to South America," Docter said in an exclusive interview at Saturday's premiere. "There was a group of 10 of us, and we didn't get to fly a house down—we took an airplane. But it took us about three days to get the jungle, because we hiked out to the middle of nowhere to see this amazing chain of table-top mountains. It was the weirdest thing I had ever seen. I didn't even know they existed. They look like a table. They just put up about a mile high from the jungle, and they are flat, nearly flat, on top. At least they are from a distance—when you get up there, it's pretty bumpy, but it's the most alien, weird landscape I have ever seen. They're really cool, and we tried to capture that for this film. The topology up there, the rock shapes, the plants and the animals, which are found nowhere else in the world, [are great]."

In addition to getting Carl and Russell's destination down pat, the filmmakers also made doubly sure they knew about dogs. Pixar has used canines in its films before, but the dogs in Up are a little different. "They are domesticated, pet dogs, but we had guys come in and talk to us about dog behavior, how they interact with each other, their physiology, anatomy and all that," Docter said.

That's not all. The movie's main mutt, Dug (voiced by Up's co-director and writer, Bob Peterson), can talk, thanks to a kid-friendly, high-tech device (a nod to The Island of Dr. Moreau). "The dogs talk because they have these technological collars which allow the thoughts of the dogs to be translated into words," Docter said. "So as opposed to the dog being able to speak like I am, and with moving their lips, they just look like regular dogs [panting, looking around], but what you hear coming out of their speakers is [a] voice, which allows us to really stay focused on 'What do dogs really care about? What do they think about?' Mostly it is food, of course, and sniffing at squirrels and things like that."

There is also a great big flightless bird named Kevin. "Kevin is a made-up creature, but again: We did a ton of research," Docter said. "We had an ostrich come to work, which is pretty cool. And also this amazing ... pheasant, which is found up in, I think, the highlands of China. It's really beautifully iridescent. So we have the iridescence of that bird in our movie, which presented some tricky technical challenges."

As far as the movie's 3-D aspects, think Monsters vs. Aliens sensibility rather than My Bloody Valentine 3-D. "The 3-D aspect of the film is a little tricky, because when I watch 3-D movies and things come out of the screen, I am suddenly aware that I'm watching 3-D," Docter explains. "So we tried to be a little more subtle with it on this one. We tried to use it for emotional reasons and to really let you get lost in the characters and immersed in this world. We have this fantastic jungle that we go down into, and so the 3-D just adds all this depth and perspective to things."

Up, already well reviewed for its Cannes debut, opens in theaters nationwide May 29.

Disney Creative Exec Boards the Potty Train

In my opinion, the most important quality you should seek in an animation studio creative exec should be a deep understanding and appreciation of story. Animation taste can be borrowed from a top-notch art director, but there’s not a single animator in the world who can rescue an ill-conceived story.

However, if a creative executive also happens to have some art chops, then by all means - hire than person immediately! And that’s exactly what Disney did several years back; hiring Mike Moon on as Vice-President of animated series for The Disney Channel. Moon brought his Emmy (for his work as Art Director on Foster’s Home for Imaginary Friends) and his eye for world-class design to the job, but he apparently wasn’t done creating his own work.

Today Hyperion Books released Kelly DiPucchio’s new children’s book How To Potty Train Your Monster, which Moon illustrated. It’s a charming book, which aims to teach your 2-5 year old the wonders of independent bathroom management, and Moon obviously took great care in rendering a squadron of monsters who are both beastly and cuddly all at once. Congrats, Mike and Kelly!

(Thanks lineboil)


You will notice that blogging today has been light (How about ... non-existent?) There is a reason for this. Kevin Koch and I, along with our faithful counselor Stu Libicki and TAG's negotiating committee, have been in contract talks with animation companies since early this morning, and we have just recently wrapped up ...

We did not, sadly, reach an agreement. We tried and tried but our fine international conglomerates wanted trinkets and baubles we were not prepared to hand over, so the Animation Guild came up short in the giving department.

We had no agreement to keep any of what we talked about confidential, but there's no point in me blathering on about the details here when I'm exhausted and will shortly be headed off to dreamland, but I will say this:

Often there is an elaborate kabuki theater in contract negotiations, with each side coming in with proposals and dollar figures they know will never be achieved, which is followed by much emoting and hand-wringing on the way to a "compromise" and ultimate contract.

We elected not to travel this route. We showed up with a short, snappy list of desired outcomes we believed were reasonable and all parties could live with, rattled them off to the group in the large conference room, and then received their proposals. There were then meetings in "side bar" to try to hash things out (fewer players, more focused negotiating) and then side bars to the side bars.

This went on until after the dinner hour, and finally there was a final big meeting where we were told "yes" on some proposals and "no" on others. (Those others were pretty major items; we had been doing similar things in the little side bar meetings.)

At the end we were still apart. And it's why I love negotiations almost as much as I do organizing. They are seldom life-enhancing walks in the park. Mostly they are long and enervating.)

So we are not done. But I'm still convinced that ... and stop me if you've heard this ... unions and guilds end up with the contracts they have the leverage to get. Sometimes they get less because they misjudge, and sometimes they get more because the Force is with them, but mostly labor organizations end up where they were destined to get in the first place.

Wish I could tell you where that destiny will take us, but I can't. Not yet. Happily, we have a date set for a resumption of talks. I'm sure we'll be letting you know how things develop.

(Thanks Animation Guild Blog)

Cartoon Network to Air 12 Hours of Teen Titans!

Want some "Teen Titans"? You got it! Check out this press release from Cartoon Network:

Fighting for truth, justice and the last slice of pizza, the D.C. Comics Teen Titans are five super heroes who are living proof that you’re never too young to save the planet. Twenty-nine hand-selected episodes of the hit animated series will air uninterrupted over 12 hours on the commercial-free Boomerang network, Monday, May 25, starting at 12 noon and culminating at 12 a.m. (ET). Teen Titans originally premiered on Cartoon Network in 2003 to great viewer and critical acclaim, making the series an instant classic for younger generations and a TV favorite for comic book fans of all ages.

Based on the long-running DC Comics series, Teen Titans features five teenage superheroes who each exhibit special powers. The team is led by Robin, the acrobatic and daring group leader with a stocked utility belt and no fear. Beast Boy, small in stature and quick with a joke, can shift into the form of any animal, from a tiger to a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Starfire is new to Earth and naïve to its ways, but when it is time for a throw-down, she fights as hard as any of the others. The spooky, deadpan Raven can control inanimate objects with her powerful mental abilities. Hulking Cyborg is half-man, half-machine and the most powerful member of the team.

But Teen Titans is not all about superpowers and bad guys. Like most teens, they love hanging out with their friends, playing video games and going to parties. And also like most adolescents, they each are trying to find their place in the world and deal with their growing pains as best as they can.

“A Teen Titans marathon is the perfect way to ring in the summer,” Said Stacy Isenhower, senior vice president of programming and scheduling for Boomerang and Cartoon Network. “Teen Titans shows us that we can be capable of great things while still having a little fun.”

Highlights of the marathon include:

· 12 p.m. (ET): “How Long is Forever?” – A super-thief from the future called WARP travels back in time to steal a priceless antique. But when the Teen Titans show up to stop him, the villain tries to escape.

· 2:05 p.m. (ET): “Date with Destiny” - A creepy criminal known as KILLER MOTH threatens to destroy the city with a flying army of MUTANT MOTHS unless Teen Titan ROBIN agrees to take KILLER MOTH’s spoiled-rotten teenage daughter KITTEN to her junior prom!

· 3:45 p.m. (ET): “Betrayal” - After a few weeks as a Teen Titan, TERRA has everything she ever wanted: a nice home, good friends, and even a little romance with BEAST BOY. Everything seems perfect...but is it?

· 4:35 p.m. (ET): “Aftershock: Part One” – A long-lost friend of the Teen Titans returns with a vengeance , and SLADE orders OVERLOAD, CINDERBLOCK, and PLASMUS to launch a series of sinister strikes all over the city. Can our heroes stop three monsters, SLADE, and their newest enemy?

Secret Saturdays to Live as Videogame

Press Release from D3Publisher

LOS ANGELES -- D3Publisher announced today that it will bring Cartoon Network's hit original action-adventure television series THE SECRET SATURDAYS to video game systems for the first time this fall with THE SECRET SATURDAYS: BEASTS OF THE 5TH SUN for Wii, PlayStation 2 computer entertainment system, Nintendo DS, and PSP (PlayStation Portable) system. In THE SECRET SATURDAYS: BEASTS OF THE 5TH SUN, players take control of Zak Saturday and the rest of the Saturday family, a group of scientific explorers dedicated to discovering and protecting the secret artifacts and mysterious creatures known as Cryptids. Using Zak's unique powers and The Claw to battle enemies and swing through action-packed environments, players will find and collect more than 30 never-before-seen Cryptids and face off against a number of the television series' most notable villains.

offers a new and original storyline based on the THE SECRET SATURDAYS television series that will have gamers traveling to very unique locations around the globe to discover and protect lost Cryptids," said Alison Quirion, vice president of marketing, D3Publisher. "A perfect mix of combat, puzzles and platforming mechanics, THE SECRET SATURDAYS: BEASTS OF THE 5TH SUN adds up to a truly fun and authentic gameplay experience."

"This fall marks an exciting time for
The Secret Saturdays with the debut of the brand's consumer products program at retail," said Christina Miller, vice president, Cartoon Network Enterprises. "This first video game release based on the series is a great interactive experience that draws upon the immersive content from television series and really gives fans an opportunity to discover, battle and capture cryptids of all kind."

In THE SECRET SATURDAYS: BEASTS OF THE 5TH SUN, players will take control of multiple characters that include the entire Saturday family -- Zak, Drew, Doc, Doyle and their pet cryptids, Zon, Komodo and Fiskerton -- and some select Cryptids to fly, swing, pole vault and battle enemies. Players will adventure through 10 action packed levels in amazing environments from dangerous jungles to lost undersea cities to collect and interact with more than 50 never-before-seen Cryptids. Along the way, players will record the details of each find in their very own Cryptipedia. Fun puzzle elements allow players to locate hidden Cryptids and discover new paths as they fight recognizable enemies from the show including Van Rook, Piecemeal, Munya and the evil V.V. Argost.

for Nintendo DS is under development by 1st Playable Productions, LLC. All other versions are under development by High Voltage Software. The game is currently rated "RP" ("Rating Pending") by the ESRB.

For more information on
THE SECRET SATURDAYS: BEASTS OF THE 5TH SUN, including game features, screenshots, videos, and downloads in the coming months, please visit:, the official site of THE SECRET SATURDAYS video games on consoles and handhelds.

premiered on Cartoon Network on October 3, 2008 and is a Top 10 show with boys 6-11 on Friday nights and a Top 5 show with boys 6-11 on Sunday nights.

Monsters vs. Aliens Pilot Ordered by Nickelodeon

Nickelodeon has ordered a pilot from DreamWorks Animation based on Monsters vs. Aliens, reports The Hollywood Reporter.

DreamWorks CEO Jeffrey Katzenberg announced the news at the 37th Annual J. P. Morgan Technology, Media and Telecom Conference in Boston.

DreamWorks and Nickelodeon announced last week their collaboration on Kung Fu Panda: The Series and Nick is currently airing The Penguins of Madasgascar, another collaboration.

DreamWorks will also have two TV specials in 2010 on NBC, a Scared Shrekless Halloween special and a Kung Fu Panda holiday special.

Disney Theme Parks Merchandise Available Online

Today sees the launch of, an online shop selling goods previously only available at Disney theme parks. A full press release can be found at AWN.

Lincoln Butterfield’s RIP, M.D. to Debut as Comic

Animation studio Lincoln Butterfield will debut its RIP, M.D. animated TV property as a series of graphic novels to be published by Fantagraphics.

Created by Mitch Schauser, RIP, M.D. is described as an edgy, teen-targeted property that takes a comical look at the real-life problems of monsters. The graphic novel series is set to debut in the first quarter of 2010.

“We’re very pleased at the opportunity to pair RIP, M.D. with a publisher that we clearly respect for what they have done with their own stable of comic book and graphic novel properties,” said Joseph Walker, associate producer/partner, Lincoln Butterfield. “We look forward to working with Fantagraphics on what is sure to be an incredibly fun series.”

“The only licensed properties we've published to date have been newspaper strips—Peanuts, Popeye, Prince Valiant—so this is new territory for us, but when I saw the work they'd done on RIP, M.D., I couldn't resist,” said Gary Groth, co-founder of Fantagraphics Books. “It’s smart, funny and has a jazzy visual style that tells the story with verve; it’s precisely the kind of work that our profession constantly laments isn’t published enough—good comics that will appeal to kids.”

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Machinima Animates New Terminator Tale

The Terminator is coming to Machinima in an all new original online series created with animation from the Terminator Salvation video game.

The first long-form Machinima series from a major studio, the six-part Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series features an original story from writer Andy Shapiro and is directed by Tor Helmstein.

The series was created by The Halcyon Company and Warner Premiere, and was produced in conjunction with Terminator Salvation movie director McG and

The series is available for download on iTunes:
Amazon Video on Demand:
(, Xbox Live and the Sony PlayStation Network. The cost per episode is $2.99 for HD and $1.99 for SD. A season pass costs $14.99 in HD or $9.99 in SD (where available).

"From a film maker's point of view, Machinima provides an incredibly dynamic way to explore live worlds and tell compelling new stories,” said McG. “The process allows the writer and director to think cinematically, while at the same time executing certain things that would otherwise be cost-prohibitive or even impossible on a set."

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Judges Set for Animag’s 8th Annual Pitch Party

The judges have been set for Animation Magazine’s eighth annual Pitch Party.

The Pitch Party offers independent artists an opportunity to advertise their animated properties for a greatly reduced rate in the pages of Animation Magazine, which is read all over the world. Each entry is also reviewed by a panel of esteemed judges, who select one winner for the opportunity to pitch their idea to the participating execs of their choice.

This year’s judge lineup includes:

Eric Coleman, SVP, original series, Walt Disney Television Animation
Melissa Wolfe, director of development, Cookie Jar Entertainment
Marc Buhaj, senior vice president of original production, Disney Channel and Jetix EMEA
Marci Proietto, SVP of production, Twentieth Century Fox TV Animation
Eric Homan, VP, development, Frederator
Tina Santomauro, acquisitions manager, and executive producer of Atom TV, a weekly late-night show that airs on Comedy Central
Natalie Altmann, head of children’s programs, M6
Eric Koland, business development, Vuze
Kim Manning, director of programming and acquisitions, Adult Swim
Curtis Lelash, director, comedy animation, Cartoon Network

All pitches are presented as 1/6th-page advertisements that offer new ideas for animated shows that just may get picked up for development. Results of the online reader poll will be announced along with the picks of their distinguished panel of industry judges and AniMag staffers in the August issue of Animation Magazine.

Additional prizes include a copy of the software suite Toon Boom Animate (a value of $999.99), a selection of animation books from The Animated Toon Factory, copies of Chronicle Books’ The Art of Up by Tim Hauser, and a copy of the 2D software title Digicel Flipbook Studio (for Mac or PC).

Deadline to enter is June 10. For more details on this year’s contest and how to enter, click through to

(Thanks Animation Magazine)

Why Spider-Man 4 helmer Sam Raimi heard your complaints about 3

Sam Raimi directing Drag Me to Hell

Sam Raimi, who is developing Spider-Man 4, told reporters Monday that he is about four weeks away from reading a screenplay draft from writer David Lindsey-Abaire and added that he's taking fan concerns about the last installment seriously.

Raimi participated in a group interview in Beverly Hills, Calif., where he was promoting his upcoming horror movie
Drag Me to Hell. The following Q&A features edited excerpts of the interview. Drag Me to Hell opens May 29.

Spider-Man 3 took a lot of criticism even though it was successful. Do you take that into consideration when you're developing the fourth one?

Do I take the criticism into consideration? Yeah, absolutely. I don't make an artistic type of picture that I can say to myself, "Even if this crowd doesn't like it, it stands as a work of art and will be appreciated years later or has meaning without the audience." I simply am an entertainer, and I make films for audience appreciation. When they don't like it, I don't have a leg to stand on. You really want to please people.

What did you particularly take to heart? Would you go back to a single villain?

I'm still working on Spider-Man 4. More properly, the writer is writing the screenplay right now. David Lindsay-Abaire, a New York playwright, is in New York supposedly writing. We'll see. I gotta call that guy. He should be done with his script in about four weeks, I think. I think I'd be better prepared to answer that question once I've read that script and know what the movie is.

Have you exhausted Spider-Man 3 co-writer Alvin Sargent?

No, I think that Alvin is inexhaustible. He has got so many great stories and characters and great humor and drama within him that it would be impossible. But I wanted to work in a new way and a new direction. I had just read this great play that David Lyndsay-Abaire had written called Rabbit Hole, and I just really wanted to work with him on Peter Parker.

Was a fourth film an easy call?

I only wanted to do it with Tobey [Maguire] because my interest is in living the character with Tobey in a deeper way than we ever have lived it before. There comes with the familiarity a knowledge of a lot of the basics. I think it's really going to allow us to delve deeply into him as a human being, which is really why I'm into it this time.

Clips Featuring FIREFLY’s Insanely Hot Morena Baccarin As Nazi-Lizard Alien Queen From ABC’s Sci-Fi Drama Remake V!!

Morena Baccarin: an alien so hot even Earth's women applaud her race's invasion!

(Thanks Aint It Cool)

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